Golden age for 302-year-old pub

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Built in 1710, the Golden Ball at Snatchems was bought by Mitchell’s in 1910 and run as a tenanted house until 2010 when the brewery put the building up for sale.

In 2011, ex-Farmhouse Tavern landlord Stephen Hunt bought the Golden Ball. Today, the former soldier runs this historic inn with his son Joseph and daughter Nicole.

Since taking over, Stephen has put his own personal stamp on the riverside pub.

In March, he built a spacious new dining room extension overlooking the river and adorned it with antiques.

Some of these have a nautical flavour, harking back to when the Lune was used as a shipping channel.

Legend has it this was how Snatchems got its name, as before the ships set sail they would ‘snatch’ drinkers from the pub and recruit them for the crew.

Ships’ wheels, a stained glass window, a 1700s Gillow wall cabinet, exposed brickwork and tiled floors –- the new dining room is the perfect combination of modern and tradition.

The maritime theme continues in the cosy downstairs pub area. It reminds me very much of the old Blue Anchor in Lancaster and the Smugglers Den in Morecambe.

Just watch your head on the low bar door, though, especially if you’re six foot tall and not looking where you’re going...

Bump on the head notwithstanding, my experience at the Golden Ball was overwhelmingly positive.

For lunch, I chose chilli con carne with half chips and half rice (£7.25). The chilli sauce was rich and spicy and the chips were just how I like them, brown and crispy.

My eldest son had lasagne (£8.95) and his clean plate spoke volumes, while my wife gave a thumbs up to her tuna sandwich on brown (£3.75) and a side bowl of potato wedges (£1.60). My youngest lad also thoroughly enjoyed his chicken fillets with chips and baked beans (also £8.95).

The littl’un was also really impressed with the outdoor children’s playground, easily accessible through the patio doors and close enough so we could watch him while we waited for our meals.

The menu also includes breakfasts (served until 1pm), a small range of starters, jacket potatoes, salads, other main courses and desserts, children’s meals and a few specials.

A former staff sergeant with the Royal Engineers who served in Bosnia, Stephen and his staff were extremely friendly.

I enjoyed reading the framed collage of newspaper cuttings on the hallway wall, depicting Stephen’s career in the armed forces. A personal touch adding to the Golden Ball’s overall character.

While some might find the meals pricey for what is essentially basic pub grub, the food is good and the idyllic setting makes dining at the Golden Ball quite the bargain.

After finishing our meals, I gazed out through the dining room’s panelled glass windows towards the stunning Lancaster horizon, pint in hand.

And for that moment, everything was right with the world.